tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN June 3, 2014 6:00pm-8:01pm EDT
just recently we saw the most recent national climate assessment and then yesterday yesterday the epa proposing acceptable and effective regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and so i feel like our country finally has the information, and the wherewithal and it's finding the will to address this great challenge. and hunting and fish iing are vital components of the nation's economy especially in rural areas. in 2011 americans spent $145 billion on wildlife related recreation, nearly 1% of the nation's gross domestic product and the changing climate system is affecting hunters and anglers today. and it is darkening the prospect for hunters and anglers tomorrow. shorter winters and earlier springs are disrupting delegate water fowl migrations that have evolved over ians.
drought and water scarcity are increasing, jeopardizing populations of native fish and aquatic species in dozens of watersheds, rising water temperatures are reducing habitat and altering breeding and spawning opportunities for many species of fish, milder winters are increasing the prevalence of parasites and disease that can have decimating effects on big game, and forest habitat. while enabling invasive species to spread into new areas and displace native wildlife. in oregon and across the pacific northwest, climate change poses a major threat to salmon, a vital element of the region's economy and culture. a study published in 2013 concludes that coastal coho salmon, a federally listed species, faces a significant climate driven risk to future sustainability. the scale and intensity of these
current and future climate change impacts pose a serious threat to america's hunting and fishing traditions, and there turn to the benefits they provide to wildlife and people. faced by these threats the administration is taking significant steps to ensure forward thinking, and effective conservation of fish wildlife and plants, and their habitats. this includes strategic planning through the president's climate action plan, the national fish, wildlife and plant adaptation strategy as i mentioned before, which we developed in cooperation with our state colleagues, and tribal colleagues. our survival and quality of life as a species is inexorably linked to the health of ecosystems which provide clean air, clean water, food, shelter and employment for the world's human population. how and whether we choose to respond here and now will determine the kind of world we leave to our descendants,
including whether we pass them a world that has a place for the great traditions of angling and hunting that we are able to practice today. mr. chairman, i want to thank you and the subcommittee for holding this hearing, and calling attention to this important and pressing issue. >> thank you. we'll now have five minute periods for questions, comment, and just to summarize, what you're seeing from your expertise within the fish and wildlife service are effects on the ground right now. >> there's no doubt, senator, that we're seeing the effects of changing migration patterns in our water fowl. we're seeing changing -- increasing parasiteism and decreasing reproductive rates in big game species like moose in the southern extent of their range. we're seeing rising water
temperatures, which reduces the habitat quality and availability for cold water fishes. and so there's no doubt that we are seeing these impacts across the board. >> so let me just take a couple pieces out. let me start with the diseases related to big game. one of our senators from new hampshire was showing a picture recently of a moose with clumps on its back and pointed out that those big lumps, if you will, big black lumps were actually big infestations of ticks that wasn't warm enough -- that was not cold enough to kill them, and they were carrying them year round, and that this was resulting in both disease, and continuous loss of blood, if you will, to the ticks. and thus an impact on the moose populations. is that one of the most prominent examples of impact on big game or what else are we seeing? >> we're definitely seeing that so we have a refuge, in northern
minnesota. we've seen a 98% in the moose population at agacy refuge. we've seen a severe reduction in moose population throughout the state of minnesota. they're no longer hunting moose in minnesota. the reason is because the rising average temperature in the summertime places physiological stress on the animal so they're not reproducing the way that they used to. plus, we're seeing that these pests, like ticks in new hampshire, which are able to have multiple generations now during the spring, the summer, the fall, and fewer of them are being killed off by severe winters, and so the animals are besieged by pests, which put further physiological stress on the animals. and so, throughout the southern range of moose, we're seeing declines in the population.
so in states like new hampshire, decline in the population. that represents a lost opportunity for the american sportsman. >> so when you said 98% loss, 49 out of 50 moose that were there before are gone, that's pretty dramatic collapse. is that over just a few years? and if we seen that in earlier periods of just a -- a mean a few years of variation in temperatures that the moose population crashed and then resurged? we ever see anything like this before? >> we've not seen anything like this before, and we've always had, you know, warm spells where you would have a summer or two consecutively where you would then have a depression in the population. they would rebound then, as weather returned to a normal pattern. but what we're seeing now is that steadily rising temperature in the summertime so that the mean temperature in the summer is now putting physiological stress on the animals which is affecting their reproduction. >> let me turn to your comments
about migration patterns for water fowl and specifically ducks. what is causing the ducks to modify their direction? are the pools they would land in disappearing? what's going on? >> migratory birds like water fowl have a delicate and refined migration pattern that has evolved over ians, so what we're seeing, put yourself in the -- look at it from the perspective of a hand mallard who's leaving her wintering grounds in yazoo national wildlife refuge in mississippi and is heading toward the american prairie. she is stopping along the way, feeding and resting. she has a very narrow window when she gets to the prairies, she's looking for a place to small a pothole or wetland to make a nest.
in rehistoric times if that didn't exist in south dakota, she would go to north dakota and then she would go to saskatchewan and she would fly until she found that habitat. what we're doing is human development, we're constraining the habitat. so we have agricultural development. we have oil and gas. energy development, that's constraining that -- her availability of habitat, so now she's much more restricted in terms of where she can go. so she -- if she doesn't make that decision in about a two-week window of time, she's not going to have a successful nesting season. and so, what we're seeing is birds are leaving later. they're migrating later in the spring, they're migrating -- or earlier in the spring they're migrating later in the fall. so they're -- their basic pattern is changing because of their response to weather, we
believe. and then the habitat availability for her is shrinking. and the what the climate assessment tells us is that wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier, and so as wildlife managers we're now looking at a more complicated picture. how do we put that -- that habitat on the ground for that hen mallrd and what we have to do is be able to look into the future because we're not just responsible for today's water fowl hunters we're responsible for tomorrow's water fowl hunters. we have to be able to think about habitat 10 and 20 and 30 years from now. so we need to recognize that the climate is changing, that that -- the habitat needs of water fowl are going to change. their migratory patterns are going to change. we need to understand that better so that we can provide the opportunity for hunters in the future. >> thank you very much for your testimony. appreciate it.
>> thank you mr. chairman. in absentia thank you for mr. tester to come in. we do appear occasionally on cross fire and enjoy trying to match wits. i'm sorry senator tester is experiencing hailstorms, increased hailstorms. i think he made a very telling statement, though, when he said i don't know what's going on. i'm not sure what's going on. but i know that scientists of goodwill disagree about what's going on. and i would say to you, dr. ashe, and mr. chairman, gail and i have lived on 521 magnolia drive, tupelo, mississippi, for
over 32 years. the lady that built the house before us planted st. augustine grass over 50 years ago. and for the first time this winter i experienced winter kill of my st. augustine grass. now, i don't know what's going on. but the fact of the matter is i can play anecdotes all day, i'll just say that if somehow the cold and the ice, and the winter got to my st. augustine hasn't happened in 50 years. on magnolia drive. i don't know what that proves. except that we can give anecdotes that don't have really much to do with science. let's talk about these the migration of the ducks. mr. ashe.
it's my understanding that because of the increased demand for corn used in ethanol production we're seeing a reduction of available breeding grounds in the midwest wetlands, and grassland for ducks in mississippi and louisiana flyways. so don't you think there is an impact caused by the renewable fuel standards on hunting and hunting species and don't you think this is an unforeseen consequence of congress interjecting itself into the markets? >> senator, thank you. i would say we are seeing what ducks unlimited and others are calling a crisis in the prairies. we certainly if you think about the states of north dakota and south dakota, which are really
the heart of water fowl production for the united states of america, we have energy development in the oil fields squeezing from the west and we have agricultural development squeezing from the east, and so there is no doubt that we are seeing widespread and unprecedented conversion of habitat that is -- >> and if i can interject, because that clock is ticking. part of that reduction in habitat is putting more of the land into corn to -- to respond to this public policy decision that the federal government has made. that is a fact, is it not? >> certainly a part of the demand is related to use for ethanol. but the market is a global market for corn and soybean, and the global market is what is driving the demand for that commodity.
what's important for us to realize is that climate change lies over that. so as we are trying to maintain and now restore, and protect habitat for migrating water fowl we have the increasing complexity associated with changing climate, and the disruption of their migratory behavior. and so if you think again about that hen evolved to tolerate, and the prospect now is for temperatures to rise throughout the end of the century. from a thermo dynamic standpoint, she not only has to make that trip with habitat,
migration is a strenuous and risky endeavor for any species. and now, we're increasing the stress on that animal to make that trip. she's got to make it every year. she's got a tight time schedule. she has demanding food and energy requirements and we are making that journey harder for her. >> i realize, mr. director, this is not a climate issue, but i'm merely trying to point out that you're concerned about the migration of ducks as am i, as are people in mississippi, particularly along the river counties and delta counties. i would submit to you there is a lot more to it than increasing of temperatures by one degree or 1.5 degrees. i'm going to want to take a second round many.
>> thank you. why don't you take your second five minutes. >> okay. let me ask you this, mr. director. do you dismiss all together the scientific evidence senator sessions mentioned this morning that global temperatures have flatlined for the last 15 years? do you dismiss that as being inaccurate? >> i do, sir. >> we just have -- you have a disagreement with the scientists who have flatly stated that we basically have flatlined -- >> there is no scientific disagreement. if what people are doing is they're taking 1998, which was a high year for temperature, and then they're looking from 1998
to 2013 and they are saying there is no rise in temperature. you can't look at attempt record that does go up and down, and so you'll have warm years, relatively warmer and cooler years. you can't pick one year out of 150 year data base and say, well, if i use 1995, which was a particularly warm year, and i compare all the succeeding years to that, there has been no increase in temperature. if you look at the complete temperature decade, there is no doubt temperatures have risen in the last decade. the last decade is the warmest decade on record. when you look objectively and completely at the scientific record, there is no disagreement. the national climate assessment reflects that science, that
large consensus body of science. >> do you acknowledge that the earth's climate has been changing up and down for tens of thousands of years? s. >> millions of years. >> millions of years. okay. and that has been irrespective of carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere, is that correct? >> carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere has changed over time, and has been correlated with by looking at the carbon dating record has been correlated with increasing and decreasing temperatures. what we are seeing now, and which science clearly points to is that human-based emissions of greenhouse gasses are driving concentrations in the atmosphere that have not been seen for hundreds of thousands of years. >> are you suggesting that every
time over the last million years the temperature has gone up, it's due to carbon dioxide? >> i can't say every time but what scientists have been looking back into paleotologic record, they've been associated with elevated and decreased levels of carbon dioxide in the eats fear. >> let me ask you about forest management. you won't be here during panel two. dr. david south in his prepared testimony says policy makers who halt and kill green harvesting jobs in favor of a hands-off approach contribute to the buildup of fuels in the forest. this eventually increases the
risk of catastrophic wildfires. also james wood on panel two will say because of past management of fire suppression, the worst neighbor a timberland owner can have is a national forest. how would you respond to that? basically in a nutshell, the argument is by refusing to allow the underbrush, there is this buildup of fuels and this intensifies forest fires. how do you respond to that? do they have a point? >> i would not say, and u.s. forest service is a poor neighbor. i don't think they have a point about that. i would say that the buildup of fuels in our nation's forest, public and private, has been a challenge for us.
whether it's national forest, national wildlife refuge, national park, state park or state wildlife management area, fire management is a challenge for any land manager. i would say the greatest need in that regard is funding for preve preve preventative management. it gives us more flexibility to do what you're calling for is to do prohibitive management of our nation's forests. >> that would be removing the fallen trees and underbrush that amounts to fuel for forest fires? >> in some cases. as a wildlife manager, sometimes dead fall and understory is a good thing for wildlife management, but in some cases,
managing forests, as senator merkley knows in the pacific northwest, we are working together with our state and federal colleagues on ecological forestry which involves many of the principles you're speaking of, which is get in, do thinning, do understory management. i think good, improved forest management is an important aspect of wildlife management and providing the habitat our game species are going to need in the future. i agree with you that that is an important adaptation for us to take. and we need better capacity to do that in knowing what we now know about climate change and what the future is going to look like. >> the chair agreed into indulge me on one other question. there is a strategic plan to
responding to climate change that includes increased data collection, initiatives to increase awareness and habitat conservation programs. how much money and how many employees is this going to take? and will this negatively impact other fish and wildlife service programs? >> i'm not sure what strategy you're talking about, sir. >> let me ask you, does fish and wildlife service have a strategic plan for responding to climate change? >> we do have a climate change strategic plan, and as i mentioned before, one of the outgrowths of that plan is the national fish, wildlife and plants adaptation strategy. it identifies a number of common sense steps that we can take. >> my question is about the cost of this and whether employees will be taken away from other
programs and placed into this initiative? >> no. because they're basically synonymous with good management, as you have identified with forest management. what we need to do is we need to provide our managers, our federal and state and tribal managers with the tools they need to do better forest management, better range management with the scientific information they need. it will cost, it will take additional capacity to do this, but it needs to be done. >> where is that additional capacity going to come from? >> well, i think as the president has provided in specific context of fire management, as i said, the president has provided in this year's budget that 30% of the funds for suppression should come from the disaster funding ceiling. that will free up dollars for us to do more preventive management for fire.
i think we know, we have common sense approaches to find and build the capacity that you're talking about. i think the president has proposed one such step in his 2015 budget. >> thank you. i'll take my five-minute turn then. i would like to say that forest service plan makes a lot of sense because what we've had in the large fires has been complete depletion of the forest service and trying to restore the funds for every other function they have other than fighting fires. that's not treating emergencies as emergencies. and huge disruptive factor in the ordinary work force. that's a terrific proposal. i commend the forest service for it. you mention in your testimony some of the migrations that are occurring. specifically, you mention the pacific, i think it's called the brandt, and that it has migrated a long -- its range changed
dramatically. can you explain what's going on there? >> sure. pacific brandt is a small goose. pacific brandt have ranged their breeding grounds in the arctic and migrate historically cowan to mexico, winter in mexico, or summer in mexico. what we are seeing increasingly of brandt are staying in alaska throughout the breeding season. so what that creates is a potential that will have a disruption, will have a severe weather event and the birds will not have migrated and will take a big population reduction. these changes in migratory patterns put more uncertainty into the game for wildlife managers. so if we are facing more uncertainty, the way we typically deal with that is we
reduce opportunity. so i think that's the restriction that we are looking at. >> my impression is we are seeing this in studies of lots of species. some of my colleagues talked about the migrating lobster, so on and owe forth. so this is not just one particular -- lots of ocean species are things that are changing? >> across the board we are seeing changes in the blooming of flowers, the green-up in alaska tundra in the springtime. we are seeing changes in migratory patterns as we talked about. we are seeing changes in habitat availability for cold water fish. while one study in 2012 of cold water fish estimates that by 2100 we could see a reduction of 50% in habitat availability for cold water fishes, trout, salmon, a loss of as much as 6.5 million angler days, and as
everyone as $6.5 billion in economic activity. so these changes are not inconsequential for sportsmen and women. >> thank you. i want to take a look at the chart on the surface temperature issue that was just raised. so this chart shows change in surface temperature from 1970 through 201. it basically shows that there's about a 0.6 degrees celsius change in just that 44-year period. one can draw kind of impressions about this, i have another chart here that has a line that simply represents kind of the rising direction of temperature, but i wanted to specifically emphasize the second chart which shows that rising temperature is a series of steps. because a number of folks have
commented and said, well look, this last bar is flat and it's flat over a period of approximately 10, 12 years. and therefore, nothing to worry about, but when you see this chart going backwards, we see a series of periods where the average temperature keeps increasing by steps, if you will. is there any reason to think that if we are looking at this chart ten years from now, that we will see a new step that is lower than the step we're at now? is there any reason to think no issue here, that this trend is not going to continue? >> i'm not aware of any scientific study that predicts a decline in temperature from this point forward. your observation as i was saying in response to senator wiccer's statement, you look at the long-term temperature record,
it's unequivocal temperatures are rising and the prediction is for temperatures to rise and the rate of temperature increase to rise in the future. >> thank you very much for your testimony. appreciate it very much. bringing the expertise of your agency to bear on these broad trends that we're experiencing. >> thank you, senator. >> mr. chairman, i wonder if there is any reason to believe that if we raise electricity rates on american farmers and ranchers by double digits that line is going to change one way or the other? >> is that something you want to speculate on? >> i think it's something i already speculated on. >> i will note looking at future power costs, it anticipates a
energy and communications. he has been a leader in oregon on more collaborative pushes as well as working to windand attract more energy projects, solar, thermal. witness is a fourth-generation wheat farmer and capital in northwest oklahoma and is the state association director of the oklahoma association of conservation districts. he served in the oklahoma house of representatives third 1990 4-2004. welcome. our third witness is a commercial fisherman in the harvestingscallop company based out of new jersey but they do business on both coasts. david south is a retired professor of forest tree at
auburn where he earned his phd in for a street. he also served as director for for the southern forest nursery management cooperative. david, our final witnesses the joint associate professor of geography at the university of delaware. he is also the former director of climatic research at the university of delaware. welcome everyone. if you could kick off the testimony, the show is yours. small nonprofit in oregon. we are 78 or send government land owned in our county and that's over 7500 square miles,
bigger than some eastern states. within that, like many communities forced over the last three decades, we have suffered high unemployment, poverty due to the policies on international forest. we look at renewable energy as a way to bring new green jobs to the forefront. changescussing climate in the forest, i cannot separate the actions of past forest management in the impacts of climate change that they will have the same effect. amount so thatat it is more back to a natural condition that was pre-european, that is also the strategy we need to use for climate change. i would like to point out over the last decade what it has meant in our forests.
the winterire was re and thenlbox fi we had a beetle kill of 300,000 acres and then in 2012 emma deberry point fire. in less than a decade, we have the nationalof forest. ofwe keep this up rate because of the warmer climate change, if we keep this up, we will lose in three decades our whole forest and i think that is a real and severe threat to us. we averaged 10% to 20% moisture.
we do not have irrigation water. you have to look to our neighbors and see what will happen there. even then, we will see reduced irrigation rates because of the drought. droughts we have never seen this severe before. long-term, short-term, all of that, i personally say it's all of that and the risk is way too high just to ignore. i hope we don't go there. using renewable energy, i feel that we can offset that. withve developed a plan the economic analysis and feasibility study, we will offset the fossil fuel emissions ita decade and we will do economically so. as we go forward with this debate, i would hope that we look at the things like that
that make economic sense. can they compete with hydro? no. and the cost of a panel is very cheap. wind is there. as we invest in these, more and more become a competitive that other rates through the country. one thing is to change the senator merkley was cosponsored with senator wyden with. considered a renewable resource and we have two companies looking to relocate and we only have supply for one so hope will he one of those will make it and that is a cellulose jet fuel and a biomass energy company. with that definition, they do not want to invest again as is not considered renewable.
do change that. it was senate bill 536. get it passed so we can change that definition. it does not make sense to me. the other thing i would like to say is we need to increase the scale of treatment. you said my full testimony about the worst neighbors, it's not because we don't know what to do but it is the length, and amount we are getting done. rather than treating 3000 or 4000 acres of land that is overstocked we be treating 20,000 acres per year. and we get to 100,000 acres and not just doing small acreage project at a time. we do not want to skip any environmental rules. this economically sound. firen't deal with the
every year. we need to get a better look at that. i hope you endorse that the land we get it through. it's far cheaper to treat the land than it is to suppress the fire. another thing that climate asnge has done in the forest it keeps the snow from hitting the ground. we get large amounts of evaporation. why common sense things today such as renewable energy can make some great impact. >> let me say we've always had
while the weather. i think will rogers put it best. if you don't like the weather in oklahoma, wait a minute. basically, the crazy weather has been put on steroids. the drought we have been suffering through was the perfect example and a drastic impact on agriculture. we have seen a reduction in cattle herds by over 10%. it has shrunk to its lowest level since 1951 and over 80% happened in two states, oklahoma and texas. we may be looking at the fourth year in a row where 50% of cotton will be abandoned. the real story is weak. this year's harvest is expected to be the lowest and it is estimated it will be 40% of what was found cut in 2012. this is not just due to the
drought. a late-season freeze also took its toll. late-season freezes are not anything new. this is the third time in five years that a late freeze has impacted the oklahoma wheat crop. senators, is in the soil. improving the health of our soil is the key to mitigate and adapt to climate change. 60%-80% oft between the organic matter. this is important because it feeds the microbial community under the soil that forms the first line of defense against climate change. water holdingthe capacity equaling on average an additional 25,000 gallons of water per acre for growing crops. by converting to a cropping system, we can greatly increase the infiltration rate of water while at the same time reducing the amount of water when it is
still exposed to the sun. this helps to better weather the drought while providing more moisture for growing crops. this increase in soil moisture also helps the overall water which helps streamflow making more water available for humans and wildlife. we can also greatly reduce soil erosion. this not only protects the soil but helps the streams and rivers. can, on average, make available $700 worth of additional nutrients. we can help more plants increase yields and beat an ever-growing planet. we are lowering carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. roughly half a metric ton of carbon per year. plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxidant -- oxygen.
when you restore soil health, you help adapt to climate change and improve water quality while you increase yield and sequester carbon dioxide in the soil. this is something we need to do. and our css have the ability to help do it. as the budget tightens, financial assistance and funding for tech echo assistance continues to shrink. during the dust bowl, it was determined to be in the best interest to keep the farms and production in the dust all. the tide was turned back and this has the ability to address in the same ability they address the dust all if they have necessary resources. they need to determine what kind of technology is the best to help adapt to climate change. they started with the formation that they hold great promise and they will go unrealized if they are not provided with resources
necessary to do the job. oklahoma alone has 2100 the structures, most of which are in need of rehabilitation. many of these could be made into reservoirs to help with water shortages and the flash floods. with passage of the farm bill, they were out the rise to do this work. it can only be used to repair existing tractors. this does not have to be the case. -- it can only be used to repair existing structures. when you look at the opportunities outlined in the original flood act like water seeity and quantity, you this as another tool that usda already has to adapt to climate change.
facing serious challenges from climate change but the good news is they have tools to cope with the challenge and there is a path forward. it?question -- will we take thank you for allowing me to speak today. i would be happy to take any questions. >> thank you, mr. pope. do we have your microphone on? >> thank you for the opportunity to address the community as you look at the impact of likelihoods of the next generations to impact these issues. shellfish industry is susceptible to ocean temperature. like canaries in a coal mine, the shellfish agriculture industry has already been impacted and is a harbinger of the human use of fossil fuels and co2 increases in the atmosphere. i'm daniel cohen, owner of
atlantic capes fisheries. operate on the east facilities in, new jersey, maryland, rhode island, massachusetts, and in the pacific northwest focused on scallops, clams, squid. i spend a lot of my time and fisheries research raising over $1 million per year on the .ounsel for primary science about 15 years ago we recognize that the harvested by commercial fishermen should be capped to make sure we had sustainable harvests for the future. there would not be enough population growing with 6 billion and now at 7 billion and it will soon be at 9 billion. they're looking more and more water to assist those in need.
this has been backed up with science and what is actually happening. four examples are really just so. we can talk about others. these examples all come from three sources. change is slow over time and water temperature changes. two is rising ocean acidity from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere raising thehe ocean level and changes the level in oceans which they ascribe to changes in bottom temperature. these examples we see in the east coast, oyster hatcheries, north carolina, rhode island, and farming. it was historically centered off the coast of virginia. the robust fishery landed over
50% of the clams for the entire country and they're the number one ingredient in obviously clam chowder which was, and i think still is, the number one soup served in the country. they are also used in friday and -- fried and breaded clam strips. from thedentified large die offs of the clams in virginia. rutgers and other scientists determined it was due to other water temperature changes. they saw greater responding off new england. new plants opened in massachusetts and rhode island showing a shift in population of the clams due to bottom temperature rise documented by rutgers and therefore a change in jobs. in the pacific northwest, we and from oregon
state university, we are documenting over $110 million in losses in the hatch industry alone. we are having to buffer the water the way you take tums. the only way they can have a successful hatchery is through major problems in the mid-2000. three year classes were killed including my company along with a $10 million loss. they believe that the ocean is ofthe highest level acidification was registered last summer. it weakens the animals to become more susceptible to disease. it is mostly documented by an article released today in the daily climate documenting work noaa.
it affects the migration and distribution of food fisheries that have been completely rebuilt. because the distribution is areng slowly north, they now being fished off of new york and further north. therefore, there is a user concept with state-by-state allocation and the commercial conflict all it consequence of the distribution due to documented change. i will conclude by saying it is irrefutable that climate change is happening. the specifically is what is testified here. examples that these must be agents of change. i will be happy to answer questions whenever you like.
>> forrester's know that they affect the size of wildfires. policymakers who halt and kill grain harvesting jobs really end up contributing to the buildup in the forest. this increases the risk of catastrophic wildfires. increase, thisis is simply unscientific. this really does not seem to matter. torefore, i am not surprised see many spreading the idea that carbon emissions caused large wildfires. well-known prayer called the serenity player.
give me the courage to change the things i can am the wisdom to know the difference. change the cannot behavior of the media and they cannot change the weather. early in my career, i gave up trying to change the media to correct her mistakes about forest management and now i just concentrate on my colleagues trying to get them to do a better job of sticking to the facts. i will leave guessing of the future to others. untrue claims about the underlying cause of wildfires can spread like wild fire. the false statement that they burned a record 9.2 million is cited in numerous articles and on more than 2000 websites. they burned about four times
that rate. the wildfire was certainly an issue of concern but to those who push an agenda do they really need to exaggerate the claims in order to fool the public. this graph shows carbon omissions arising since 1926. if we cherry picked data from 1926-1970 we get a negative .elationship however, if we cherry pick data from 1985 to current, we get a positive relationship. during the dry season, human activity is an overwhelming factor that determines both the number and size of wildfires. and 48 states, there have been
10 extreme mega-fires. eight of these occurred during decades. this data suggests that extremely large mega-fires were four times more prominent back carbon dioxide concentrations were less than 310 parts per million. it looks to me we cannot that man-made global warming causes extremely large wildfires. seven years ago, this committee conducted a hearing about climate change and wildfires were not even mentioned in that hearing. hurricanes and droughts were mentioned a number of times. i am pleased to provide you with my forest reviews because unlike
the drought and polar vortex, we can reduce the risk of wildfires. of thenately, some policies have, in my view, contributed to increasing the risk of wildfires. carbon dioxide will have no effect on reducing the size of wildfires or on the frequency of droughts. in contrast, allowing forest management to create jobs in the private sector might reduce the loads of dense forest. in years when demand is high, the number might actually have an impact on reducing wildfires. tonk you for the opportunity address the subcommittee. >> thank you, dr. south.
>> carbon dioxide is plant food. if the global temperature rises for any reason, it will be increased and it will be enhanced and the worries of the planet will be far. the big problem is the limit and much of this is order availability. depends on changes in precipitation and increases for demand. percentage in moderate or extreme drought has not changed in 112 years. of longernot become duration. this does not warrant claim that global warming will negatively impact agriculture. droughtcast of extreme rises from model simulations which are only as good as the ability to simulate
precipitation. they underestimate the intensity. they may appear correct in the aggregate. how can it make accurate estimates of changes when they cannot simulate correctly the mechanisms that drive precipitation? it is driven by air temperature but models have overestimated the rise in its 1979 by almost one degree fahrenheit. if tree sit and air temperature are not modeled correctly -- if precipitation and air temperature are not modeled correctly how can this follow? is happeninge because climates always change. i believe preparation for the return is a better strategy than trying in vain to mitigate through jim crow and he and -- draconian policies. i have become increasingly
concerned at how the scientific debate is being correct it. in my senate testimony regarding a hockey stick, it was being compromised and then attack had been made on the scientific process. one of the journals was threatened with an organized way can't over a paper published. the senior editor move to bar two scientists solely because of their position on climate change without a hearing and without an accusation of fraud or plagiarism. i would like to report that things have become better but they have not. in my case, i learned i have been denied publication of an important paper due to collusion between another scientist and an editor. over the years i have applied for several federal grants including nasa and the u.s. department of agriculture. it is not that i received bad reviews. program officers refused to
respond by e-mail or telephone and the behavior appears related to an article in the national academy of science, also used as a blacklist for researchers unconvinced of global warming. i had two collings at delaware in my story is documented in my written testimony. university general counsel said he would review my documents regardless of how they were produced. he did notd that apply to them and i was told that although the law may not require him to turn over any thing it does not preclude him from doing so. i will be treated differently simply because he can treat me that way so i sought legal counsel. the dean informed me i could not hire my own lawyer and i was removed as a climatologist, codirector of the network i spent nearly a decade to develop . legal counsel finally agreed to treat all of us equally.
this never occurred. he never went through materials for anyone else and i was targeted and lied to. they said that matters did according to the cbo, none of my materials fall under the law. fall under the federal arbitration case. there's nothing about my record that i am embarrassed over. there are many other cases in which the victims cannot speak out. the so-called war on science is nothing but a diversion. the reward is waged within our federal agencies. discussioncientific is being distorted for personal -- scientists who deviate from the play broke our -- the playbook are removed from positions of power and influence. young scientists learn to toe
the party line. i leave you with this line. when scientific views come under attack from political -- thank you. >> thank you very much for all your testimony. we will now have a five minute time. the order will go to senator sessions. senator wicker has said he will defer to his colleagues. i didn't see you come in. forth. go back and
i have been struck -- when i view the county in oregon, they are trying to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources. of the factor driving that conversation the general observations by folks about the impact of carbon dioxide on the force? >> in the beginning, about 10 years ago, we started analyzing it. we did a paper on it. we could offset 93%. my board approved that we will go public with our findings and tried to develop a plan to use renewables to offset carbon. we grew into that as we learn more and more of the benefits of renewable energy. tosaid, what will that do
climate change? what will that due to carbon dioxide emissions? as i said in my testimony, what we have on the table would offset 93. to get to 100 is not that difficult from there. we are well on that road. i think we can be 100% offset within 10 years. >> i was looking at the climate assessment. isnotes that climate change exacerbating factors that lead to wild factors -- wildfires. heat, drought, and the dead trees. allerbated the bark beetle , outbreaks, which normally i in cold weather. a reportt there is that estimates if you increase the temperature 1.8 degrees , yout night, -- fahrenheit
would quadruple the amount of acreage burned. forestlook at the issues, if i understand your testimony, you are seeing the impacts of human management of the forest as a factor, but also the overlay of these factors. >> exactly. impacted our snow pack. if you look at the forest to the six sitess, they had that were zero percent snowpack. >> with the drier conditions? >> beetle kill. it gets into lodgepole pine naturally. it has never been the size it is today. that is because we do not have the cold temperatures and they get to live year after year. 350,000 acres is abnormal. nobody has ever seen that. entire west into canada was over 4 million acres
of beetle kill. >> thank you very much. turning to the farming side, one of the things you said were changes in wheat farming. are you arguing the changes in wheat are being impacted by changing temperatures? >> yes. when you look at the situation on the southern plains, the drought has had a huge impact. when you look at the situation as far as precipitation -- and with wheat, wheat is a resilient crop. challenges, the rain patterns we are seeing. the effects of the late-season freezes and droughts, we are seeing an impact from the changes in the climate. i think there are things we can do to help adapt to that situation. i hope we can do some things to move forward as far as improving the soil health, making farms more resilient to drought.
heavy rain events. i think that is the challenge we have in front of us is having the tools to do that. >> thank you. i the 45 seconds i have left, read a recent report about oysters in the chesapeake and declining because of the city. -- acidity. there is a secondary effect because oysters. the water. -- oysters filter the water. is that consistent with what you are seeing? great benefit a for the environment. they are filter feeders. they do clean. that's why they are to bring them back in the chesapeake a. -- bay. similar to what is happening in the civic northwest, we have rising levels of pco2. therefore rising the city. -- acidity.
we have been able to document it. it is a little harder in the wild environment to determine what is happening, whether events taking place -- it is not really spawning, the baby larvae have a hard time sitting up there shall. can't get the calcium because of the acditidity. >> thank you. my time has expired. whoave a number of folks want to jump into this. youlieve senator sessions, are next. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the time that we can intimidate people who present scientific papers that disagree with the
current idea that is in fashion needs to be over. we need to challenge that. i'm not going to rest easy about it myself. havew the president, and i challenge this twice, he has said the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago. he said it twice. can any of you gentlemen support that statement? do have any sense that would back that up? looks -- mr. ashton is not. -- mr. ash does not, . tolerate thed to president falsely asserting the us of climate. we have to allow scientists to prevent contrary views without being intimidated by the politically correct crowd. feel strongly about it.
we will keep working on it. the climate change science of 2000said in may eight, a tendency towards a decrease in severity and duration of drought over the latter half of the 20th century, and decrease. thick about that kingston trio song. substitute oklahoma for texas. the world is full of strife. texas needs rain. we had a lot of drought in the 1930's. more than you have today? >> if i can answer. it is drier now that i was in the 1930's. the drought in the 1950's is the drought of record in 19 oh in oklahoma.
-- the drought in the 1950's is the drought of record in oklahoma. is morere saying it severe than the 1930's? >> yes, it is. if it were not for the conservation practices, i feel confident that we would be consequencesthe that we did in the 1930's. >> you have a chart here that indicates rainfall in forest lands in different regions of the country have increased over 100 years ago. is that the way i read it? northeast? it indicates other areas have it increases? you indicate other regions have reductions? >> there is no change in the west. a slight decrease in the southwest.
>> where the droughts are severe now. you have a four percent increase in the northeast? years. inches and 100 in the southwest. >> overall, we are not seen a decline in rainfall. throughout the country. isn't it true that we have had a resurgence of game and alabama? alabama? >> certain species, that is correct. >> is it true that more forests are being managed better? >> that is a value term, but i would say yes. a rollable lands, lands, are now in timber -- you
rollable lands -- erodable lands, are now in timber? mathematics perspective, yes. >> so instead of having land -- is my time up -- the way we manage timber, you would plant in open field that is being harvested every year. trees grow for 15 years. they are thinned. they grow faster because there is a penny. -- event-- harvesting. then they are replanted. i would say that is a renewable resource, would you not? >> definitely. >> would you oppose the idea that we should not treat wood as a renewable resource like we do corn?
would you oppose the idea that some are raising that we should not use wood for renewable energy or other resources? >> yes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that planting trees helps reduce carbon, but it hardly offsets the coal plant next door that is putting out tens of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. the 50 worst plants in the country put out more carbon than korea. industrialized country. we are seeing effects in new england. senator sessions was pleased to bring up that there is additional rain falling in the northeast. not only is there additional climatest as the
projections expect, but it is powerful -- falling and more powerful burst, just as the experts predicted. causingrsts are damaging flooding. we have had year after year of hundred year floods in rhode island. it just keeps coming. we are in ocean state. we are seeing dramatic changes in our oceans. fringes ofble at the the scientific debate. how about fishermen? guy, as brown, -- brown, head of the fishing association. he was a fisherman. he is -- this is his life.
on a different ocean today than when i started fishing with my grandfather as a boy in the mid-1960's. not that long ago. haddocktarted, catching was commonplace. last year, i caught only two. regularly caught are the species grouper,r -- croaker, and others. my grandfather never saw a single one of these in his entire life as a fisherman. me,nother fisherman said to is getting weird out there. it is not just rhode island. i have traveled to the south atlantic over the break. they told me off charleston, they are catching snook. fish you used to go
down to fort lauderdale. it is working its way up. redfish are caught as north as cape cod. in case the warming oceans and moving around of the fisheries is not enough, against the shores of rhode island, the oceans are 10 inches higher than the 1930's. sooner or later, another hurricane is going to come and give us a punch. i ask my colleagues, if you are genuinely interested, spend 10 minutes on google looking at the images of what happened to my of 1938.the hurricane imagine what happens when those 10 inches of additional sea andl get stacked up further thrown against our shores. it is a potential catastrophe. the idea that i am supposed to overlook this is preposterous.
the idea that my side of the ledger does not count and the only side that does is jobs in the coal industry or jobs in the oil and gas industry is equally preposterous. becomens out there has spectacularly clear. even though there remains a french. -- fringe,. . it is not friends that any rational person would put a bet on in their real lives in any other circumstance. i want to conclude by thanking the senator for this program. i want to thank senator: -- testimony.en for his this is happening in people's lives now in ways that are unprecedented. we have to get responsible about doing something about it. i think the chairman. >> thank you very much, senator whitehouse.
witnesses.our first of all, i am sorry i came too late for the first panel. featuring director ash. when he was last before the committee, i asked him some questions regarding the consultation under the endangered species act with proposalsepa's new regarding existing power plants. endangered andt threatened species. understanding impacts on that. i asked if he was consulting because of that. he has not followed up. i sent a letter to him and
administrator mccarthy regarding this mandated consultation. i have gotten no response. i will continue following up. but that is his job. this is a major set of regulations. answers about their responsibility for observation. in terms of questions, dr. that, i share your concern every weather item in the news exampleup as the newest of the impact of time and change, with no real science behind that assertion. also true of wildfires. just recently, the democratic majority leader, harry reid, claim to global warming was because of increased file -- claim to global warming was
cause of increased wildfires. would you think the historical record lays out in terms of trends over time regarding wildfires? are the do you think leading causes of any trends that do exist? >> first of all, who claim co2 causes additional wildfires are not making scientific sense. they have been associated with droughts and forest conditions that make wildfires more probable. the chart that i showed, showing a lot of wildfires in the 1930's
before we started having active wildfire fighting forces, gives of how cyclic it can be. the downward trend you see is caused by humans. activity trying to fight the fires. has causedprawl that people -- resulted in people building houses in the forest manpowery view, taken away from fighting fires and into protecting homes. this can increase the size of the wildfire that they happen to be working on. spending more time on fighting, or preventing houses from
catching fire. taking the time away from attacking the front. this causes the size of the fire to be larger. >> also, in this area, what are your thoughts about current management of our forests? and that factor regarding wildfires? >> the general view to the public -- we are starting to let the public manager our forests and fit of living forrester's -- forresters.etting public causes litigation delays, we have a build up of fuels. in increased risk of wildfires. policies that lock
decreasingss areas, harvesting rates -- we used to harvest about 12 billion board feet per year off of national forests. that has dropped down to nothing. the natural forests national the national forests are getting bigger and that is causing more catastrophic wildfires. >> thank you very much. senator wicker? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i have to say this. in aver,t today, committee hearing, insulted the integrity of witnesses on the other side of an issue.
we have come perilously close to that in this committee today. to be suggested, by my friend from rhode island, that dr. a fringe --t of into me, this is the very and of public intimidation insulting rhetoric that professor lee gates has talked experiencing at the university of delaware. i take exception to it. yourr. lee gates, signatory of the petition, are you not? >> yes sir. >> that petition says there is no scientific -- no convincing carbonfic evidence that
dioxide or other greenhouse gases are causing a real and conceivablecan -- heating of the earth's climate. i believe there are 30 some thousand people that sign the petition. >> 30 some thousand people? would you describe them? them are scientists, phd's in other disciplines. people connected with climate change and doing research in the areas. i have to say, i appreciate someone standing up and challenging the conventional wisdom. martin luther did that. martin luther king did that. i appreciate people that are willing to hold up their hand and say, i have some data here. i would like to suggest is a contrary position. >> i wouldn't put myself in that
category. >> it is important issue. i admire you for standing up, and dr. south also. saying, you have a right to be heard. a right to be listened to. a right not to be insulted by the being called part of a lunatic fringe. you have concluded that droughts in the u.s. are more frequent and intense during colder periods, is that correct? >> that is what the data indicates. when we look at droughts over the last 2000 years, they tend to be more intense and frequent when the temperatures have become colder. >> dr. south, you have offered a couple of bets to your fellow scientists over time. is that correct? looks yes, sir. >> five years ago, you offered to bet on an ice free arctic in
the summer of 2013. when a bbc journalist wrote a 2007 article. experts declined to bet with you, is that correct? >> that is correct. >> they would have lost that bet, is that credit? >> that is correct. >> you are currently offering a bet on sea level rise. will you tell the committee about that? >> i am looking for someone who would be willing to bet $1000 on the sea level increase for the year 2024 in charleston, south carolina. about 3.15rrently is millimeters. i don't know how they do that to the hundreds of a millimeter. you can do it mathematically. bet that the rate 10
years from now is not over seven millimeters. -- if allimeters would seven millimeter rate starts now and goes to 2100, it would equal increase.o foot many people are talking about a 14 millimeter -- being equivalent to a war foot increase. i am essentially betting that for the next 10 years, it will not be increasing at a rate that would equal a two foot increase by 2100. but i will not be living that long. i can't win that bet. >> the disc that apply to your would that that apply to your heirs? would. it
>> thank you very much. we have had a good hearing. there are people watching this -- and there will be people late at night watching this suffering from insomnia. perhaps someone will take dr. south up on his bet. >> thank you to all of our witnesses. i appreciate you bringing your expertise. that climate today change is having impacts on the ground right now. it is not an abstract theory. it is not about models, decades, or multiple decades into the future. changes on the ground right now are real and measurable. they are affecting americans' ihoods in farming and fishing and four street. these are real jobs and a real impact on this generation. we have heard about bark beetle infestations. migrations of fish.
the impact on intensifying wildfires. the impact of magnified droughts. more acidic oceans in the pacific. their impact on oyster reproduction. if babyo wonder about, oysters are having troubles forming a shell, how many other shellfish impacts are there that are going to be problematic for andfood chain in our oceans our fisheries? these things are real at this moment. they confront us with evidence that must not be ignored. certainly, this is in the context of debate at this moment about specific measures that we might take to limit carbon dioxide. including that from coal-fired power plants. the cost of ignoring climate change will continue to
increase. the costs are real and tangible. they will affected jobs. they affect our rural resources. i appreciate the testimony before this committee today. members of the committee will have two weeks from today to additional written questions to the witnesses. i would ask that if you receive such questions, you will respond. we will make sure the answers are circulated. with that, the meeting is adjourned. >> here's a look at our prime time schedule. 8:00, senate leaders harry eid and mitch mcconnell testify on campaign finance. and whether there should be a constitutional amendment. the-span2, michael vickers,
undersecretary of defense for intelligence, talks about intelligence and national security. on c-span three, senate select committee looks at funding for transportation programs. tomorrow morning, queen elizabeth troubles from buckingham parliament -- palace to parliament. she will be delivering a speech. members from the house of commons will join their colleagues in the house of lords to hear the address. you can hear the comments live wednesday at 5:30 a.m. eastern. journal,shington charles stimson looks at the history of u.s. leaders who said they will not negotiate with terrorists. this comes after it the obama administration's do with
the taliban to free a soldier. facebooke calls, comments, and twitter comments. you can see washington journal live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. includess at eight financial journalist michael lewis. >> we are living through a dramatic time. there are real structural problems. -- i amwill be living not an economic forecaster, but everything i've read suggests we will be living with unusually high levels of unemployment. a quarter of the country is on food stamps. weis not a great depression, are not reprising exactly what happened in the 1930's, but it is a version of that. >> read more of conversation
with michael lewis and other at c-span's sundays at eight. now available as a father's day gift. >> senate republicans introduced legislation to address wait times at veterans hospitals. senator john mccain also commented on the recent prisoner exchange. this is 25 minutes. >> good afternoon. >> i am joined by senator burr of north carolina, senator coburn of oklahoma and my colleague from arizona, senator flake. we are all very aware of the ongoing scandal that has presets our treatment of men and women who served in the military. this scandal has reached
proportions where the american people are deeply angered and are demanding we make changes to fix this problem. there are even charges that in our home state of arizona 40 people died while awaiting care. i don't know of an issue more serious than this as to how we treat those who have been willing to go out and serve and sacrifice on behalf of their nation. i especially want to thank my colleagues on the veterans affairs committee. i would like to thank dr. coburn, who understands and has been involved in this issue of veterans administration for many many years. and my colleague, who has taken a lead role in trying to address this terrible and almost tragedy
that has inflicted. a bill will give eligible veterans greater flexibility with choosing their medical care and increased accountability and transparency within the v.a.. the bill would accomplish these goals by the following, it would empower veterans who cannot schedule an appointment within a reasonable time or live too far away from the v.a. medical facility, to exercise the choice, i emphasize the choice of getting medical care from any doctor or tri-care program. i always believed veterans could and should choose. that's where i first proposed in 2008 when i ran for president. give these veterans a choice card so they can take it and
present it to the health care provider. prohibit scheduling or goals that can be used as factors in determining performance awards or bonuses. require the secretary of the veterans administration to establish policies that outlines penalties and employee would be subjected to if he or she falsifies data, including civil penalties, suspension, or termination. empower the secretary of the veterans administration to remove any top executive if the secretary of defense determines that his or her performance warrants removal. the secretary will certify and notify congress so the removal and reason of the removal. this will sunset after two years and require the inspector general to audit it every two years. this legislation addresses root causes of current scandal and
empowers veterans with greater flexibility to get the quality medical care that he or she deserves. the inspector general reported 1700 veterans who were awaiting primary care appointments in the va hospital in phoenix arizona were not placed on the electronic waiting list. as the ig report stated, "most importantly, these veterans continue to be at risk of being forgotten or lost in phoenix's convoluted scheduling process. as i mentioned earlier from the inspector general is now investigating 42 v.a. facilities across the united states and the inspector general has identified instances of manipulation of the data that distorts the
legitimacy of reported waiting times. this legislation squarely address the root causes of the tragic circumstances that bring us here today. >> a few things to add to it. john mentioned phoenix. when the phoenix investigation began we had already had 12 reports from either the ig, the office of special counsel or medical investigations, pointed to exactly the same things that came out in the interim reports. since 2010 senior leadership ignored any attempts to make any changes or address any of the problems that all of these investigations raise. that is why we are here. this bill is very targeted, is focused specifically on fixing a short-term problem, which is how we get veterans the care they deserve. and how do we allow the v.a.
leadership to make the systemic changes they need to make address by the inspector general? some on capitol hill claim this is all about money. let me remind you that since 2010 in the health care account alone the v.a. has carried over $4.6 billion and has estimated to carry over another $450 million. these are appropriated dollars that are not needed for the delivery of health care to our nation's veterans. it has been no investigation saying there was a shortage of the investigations pointed to things like double scheduling, veterans who left off the role or request things that were changed. they leave us in an unknown situation.
what does this bill to echo it is choice, transparency, and change. it is not encompassing everything congress would like to pass as it relates to v.a. legislation but it addresses the urgent things needed right now. i am proud to announce that as of this press that as of this conference concerned veterans of america have publicly supported this bill. we hope there will be more organizations before we mark this bill up. >> i never served in the military. like many of you i have the benefits of living in a great country because people put on
that uniform and served for me. to me it would seem that if you are a combat veteran of this country you ought to be first in line, not last in line. your access ought to be cared -- ought to be guaranteed, not for nominal care but for the best care. to equal the commitments. this bill is a focused bill. it is about maintaining the v.a. and making it better. it is also about honoring the sacrifice of the veterans who served this country. when they have the need to get it addressed, not to be a manipulated number, but to have access to the care that not only they need but they deserve more than any of us. i am proud of the work we have done.
a little tidbit of information, the average practitioner sees half the number of patients that the average practitioner outside the hospital sees. that was in family medicine published two years ago. it is not about the number of doctors. it is about actually working and getting the job done. we have some great physicians in the v.a. system. this bill is about addressing those problems. >> i will be very brief. if you can imagine being a veteran in arizona and waiting an average of 115 days for an appointment, you can imagine living in a hometown and having
to get into a van and travel three hours just for a routine craft. if this legislation passes it will no longer be the case. veterans will be guaranteed. we time is longer than it should be. you will be a will to see someone else. that is what we have to do to fix the system. >> thank you. i'm told that if you read the v.a. regulation right now, veterans waiting longer than 30 days can already access a private document. can you describe some of the mechanics of how your choice would differ from existing methods in place now. you are on veteran affairs, can you address what senator mccain -- can you address what happens to the funding of the 27 community clinics? >> first of all, that is up to the
discretion of the v.a., this ability to get care or not. most times they do not get that. second of all we want to make this mandatory and we also want to make it with a certain geographic situation. they may be eligible in some instances but it is not happening. this legislation would make it happen. >> it empowers the veteran to make the decision reliant on it -- reliant on a bureaucrat to determine they want to outline the v.a. facility. that is the way they are structured within the v.a.. i take it you are talking about the veteran initiative pre-and we are very supportive of that. i won't tell you in an amendment process they wouldn't be part of this bill.
it is very pertinent. they keep this bill focused on issues they thought addressed days biggest challenge. as a committee and republicans, we are very supportive of the expansion. >> in terms of funding, how would you go about paying for them? >> there are $4 billion that haven't been spent in the last five years. there is $480 million that isn't going to be spent this year. money is not the problem of the veterans administration. it is management and accountability. and honesty in treating veterans and giving them what we need. i don't expect it to be a significant problem. it is a two-year bill. the sunsets after two years. there is plenty of money in the v.a. organization today to handle this.
>> other any efforts to pay for this? >> it's paid for already. we have a problem in the v.a. system. they are not spending the money. that is management competency level issue. where is the competency? i remind you we have for v.a. hospitals under construction that are $1 trillion over budget. $500 million over budget in denver alone. it is called competency. we have to demand accountability. >> you can see why i recommend strongly that dr. coburn be the next secretary of veterans affairs. >> and were lobbying for john mccain to be jay carney's replacement. the administration has testified every year in front of the committee.
what i don't want people to walk away from and think the v.a. is all about health care. 50% is about benefits. the vba side is as broken as the a side. the health care pieces about 43% of the v.a. budget. the other 7% is scattered through education and job training and other programs. health care is exactly what it sounds like. it is also the homelessness programs that are run through the v.a.. >> what is your plan for trying to get action on this in a senate that has a majority of democrats? what democrats are you talking to? is there a standard? >> we have all spoken to a number of democrats. they are very interested in joining with us in an effort to get legislation accomplished.
i can't specifically state their positions. i know this. we are eager to sit down with our democratic colleagues and get this bill to the floor. i believe through the amendment process and through debate is vital. there are a lot of good ideas out there. this is our blueprint and we are proud of it. we are listening to debate and amendments. if harry reid will agree to that i believe we could get a veterans choice act through this congress in a week. >> senator rubio has 10 democratic sponsors to the accountability act. that may be a tougher swallow for some of the democrats than the choice act. >> why would that be tougher? >> simply because it changes employment rules.
i think democrats have always been suspect of it. i think what we see is broad-based support, not just outside of congress but inside congress to empower our veterans, to make choices as it relates to their health care. >> just one thing on this, is there an issue morally more important than meeting the needs of our veterans in this country? the foundation of having other people serve depends on how well we take care of those that have. is if we can't get the leadership to come together and fix what is really want -- really wrong, not a christmas tree bill but a problem-solving bill, then shame on the u.s. congress. thank you.
>> are you saying because there is all this money in the house un spent that some of that money could be used? >> it could. i would first ask you to go and look at how many patients at procedures -- the average operating room at the va hospital does 60% of what the average operating room is doing around the country. they work at half the rate. do we need more working at half the rate or do we need the ones that are there working at the rate the rest of the countries working at? i don't think there's a problem. >> one of the things he do under transparency is we require the v.a. to supply to health and human services the same data set that non-v.a. hospitals report to patient quality and
institutional quality. it will begin to give us the data we need to make assessments as to whether understaffing is a problem. is important that as we talk about other additions to the v.a. that whether it is in personnel or in other changes that we actually wait for the inspector general to come out with a full report. i believe if you are going to address changes in a -- in 150 institutions, we're probably going to need an independent audit for those facilities. i think with the ig is finding is there so systemic things. there is a process of the v.a. facility. it is vital that we figure out how to get a handle on differences.
>> let me give you a vignette. they got put on administrative leave for using residents to clean and operating room. is that where we want to send them? should they get the greatest care? i think they should be in front of me and every member of my family when it comes to care. >> somewhere in the back of this old mind of mine -- [inaudible] because there were problems with the v.a. health care system back then, talk of closing them the v.a. hospitals and letting
veterans go to the private sector where they would presumably get better treatment. why not just scratch the whole system? >> several reasons, but one reason of great importance is there are certain areas which only the v.a. has the talent and expertise. traumatic brain injury, spinal cord problems, ptsd, prostheses. there are a number of areas that really the v.a. is the place. i am afraid if you did away with a lot of that, then, obviously, we would lose that ability to treat our veterans, particularly the war-wounded. though with this proposal, the veteran wants to go to a health care provider and he has medicare or a tri-care, that veteran can choose that. i would argue that there are
many health care providers that are as good or better in other areas. in other words, the veterans should have the choice of where he or she can get the best treatment. that is what this is all about. this is limited. limited geographically. we are not trying to undermine the v.a. we're trying to improve the v.a., but we're also trying to improve access at the same time. >> i want to ask about the extra hiring of doctors and nurses -- [inaudible] >> we are here to talk about what we think is a very targeted solution to a real problem that the ig and a bunch of other investigations have shown. >> there is a shortage of positions in this country, and
it is going to get worse. we are releasing a report on physician training and supplementation by the federal government and what is going to happen. the v.a. is going to have to compete, whether there is more money or not. the problem right now is not physicians. the problem is the work rate on average in the v.a. in the case of -- >> in the case of sergeant bergdahl, this agreement in my view puts future men and women who are serving in the military at great risk. these individuals were judged in guantánamo frequently that if they were released, it would cause a great risk to the men and women who are serving in the battlefield. these individuals, as senator graham calls them the fab five,
i believe, these individuals will be able to move around qatar, and after one year, according to the qatar spokesman, they will be able to go back to afghanistan. 30% of those who have left guantánamo have already reentered the fight. this is the hardest and toughest of all, wanted war criminals. one of them supposedly guilty of murdering thousands of shiite muslims while he was in charge outside of kandahar, i believe. so this decision to bring sergeant bergdahl home, and we applaud that he is home, is ill founded. it is a mistake. and it is putting the lives of american servicemen and women at risk, and that, to me, is unacceptable to the american people.
>> these were taliban leaders -- >> no, they were al qaeda. remember, there is al qaeda, too. >> [inaudible] >> they were associated with an part of the taliban. i am sure you are aware that in 2001, the taliban and al qaeda were working together, which is the reason why we went there. these individuals were working with al qaeda. >> [inaudible] they were held in guantánamo. >> these people dedicated their lives to destroying us. they have dedicated their very existence -- why do you think when a judgment is made that if they release them, they would pose great risk to the united states of america? they are taliban and al qaeda. don't you understand that? you are an old man, like you said, so you might remember that
in 2001, al qaeda -- al qaeda found a haven with the taliban. that is why we initially invaded afghanistan. to somehow separate these people from al qaeda is just damn foolishness. >> i understand your problem with giving up the five taliban members. that is very clear. i still cannot get my head around applauding -- [inaudible] >> i think the deal should not have been made, as i have said many times. but i would make every effort to continue to make every effort to bring him home. thank you. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] responses.
you can join the conversation on com/cspan. reid and minority leader mitch mcconnell testify at a hearing for campaign dynamics. this marks the 25th anniversary square -- 10 and tiananmen square. >> we bring public affairs event from washington putting you in the room at congressional hearings. we are c-span created by the